Iowa Caucus Results: Cruz wins, Ethanol Mandate Loses

The only major candidate, Democrat or Republican, to call for an end to the contentious ethanol mandate won the Republican caucus, clearly beating Donald Trump. That could doom what many even in Iowa, among even some farmers, call a boondoggle.

Read Time: 2 minutes

February 3, 2016, 9:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid


This is not your grandfather's Iowa, demographically speaking. While many have pointed to the Hawkeye State's lack of racial diversity, one change that escaped many in the media is its urbanization, and that means that the ethanol mandate, a requirement that biofuel be mixed into gasoline, is not of paramount importance, to the chagrin of the governor

"It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support [Sen. Ted Cruz]," [Gov. Terry Branstad (R)] told reporters at a forum held by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, writes Coral Davenport, climate and energy reporter for The New York Times.

Energy policy experts, advocates in the fight on poverty and even other farmers say a law that has been a boon for Iowa has been a boondoggle to the rest of the country.

“Culturally, anything that supports corn is seen as good,” said Bruce Babcock, an economist at Iowa State University, pondering whether ethanol’s grip here was slipping. “But if Ted Cruz wins the caucus, there’s your answer.”

The article appeared in Monday's paper, the day the caucus was held. "With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Cruz had nearly 28 percent of the vote, Mr. Trump 24 percent and Mr. Rubio 23 percent," reports The New York Times on Tuesday.

"When the Renewable Fuel Standard (aka ethanol mandate) was enacted [in 2005], lawmakers hoped to ease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil while promoting a low-carbon, climate-friendly alternative," writes Davenport.

That leaves only the environmental argument for the mandate. However, because of its implementation, carbon emissions are not being reduced as they would be if operated under a performance-based approach, as Margo Oge explained in a New York Times op-ed posted here Monday.  

Ethanol has flourished without being subsidized for over four years. Can it survive without a mandate?

Monday, February 1, 2016 in The New York Times - Politics

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Aerial view of dense single-family homes in neighborhood still under construction

How Virginia Counties Use Zoning to Stifle Development

Some state legislators are proposing action at the state level as counties block development using zoning and development requirements even as housing prices rise sharply in the region.

January 23, 2023 - The Virginia Mercury

New York City Coronavirus

The Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Remake Downtown

Urban cores around the country were transforming into live, work, and play destinations before the pandemic. The pandemic was a setback for this transformation, but it could also be a rare opportunity. It’s up to city leadership to seize it.

January 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Rendering of red seven-story student housing building with students walking in open grassy plaza in front of building

L.A. Times Editorial Board Calls for CEQA Reform

The Board argues that the environmental law, while important, has too often been ‘weaponized’ by NIMBY groups to delay or halt housing development.

January 31 - Los Angeles Times

Seattle buses in line at a depot with Seattle skyline in background

Seattle Brings Free Transit to Public Housing

Linking transit programs to housing can lower administrative costs and streamline the process for riders.

January 31 - Route Fifty

Broad street in downtown Columbus, Ohio with two pedestrians in crosswalk

Columbus Could Lower Downtown Speed Limits

The city council will vote on a proposal to lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour to improve safety and make downtown more walkable and welcoming to pedestrians.

January 31 - The Columbus Dispatch